A priest in Germany harshly criticized the church’s refusal to ordain women and gay men, as well as its unwillingness to bless same-gender couples, calling some Catholics “bouncers” for their exclusionary attitudes.
Father Christof May, the rector of Limburg’s diocesan seminary, includes these critiques in a now-viral homily. May said, “Instead of opening up the field to everyone, we see ourselves far too often as bouncers,” using the term for bar/restaurant personnel who eject certain customers from the establishment.
Critiquing the church’s restriction on blessing couples in new relationships after a divorce, May said, “The two of them don’t want to marry, they want a blessing. I am not allowed to say to them: ‘That’s fine’.”
May denounced the refusal of the church to ordain gay men, arguing that a person’s sexuality should not prohibit them from serving the church. He asked, “Isn’t the question whether the person is honestly trying to stand up for the Kingdom of God?”
May argued that women seeking ordination, who “rightly want to share in the power of the Church,” are “eyed suspiciously” and “excluded.”
In a powerful remark on his desire for the inclusion of those on the margins, May said:
“I don’t want to have to bless the remarried divorced couple, the same-sex couple, off to the side. I want to see them in the middle. I don’t want to tolerate a woman in a position of power, rather I want to see her encouraged.”
May said that his experience as a Missionary of Mercy during the Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2015-2016 taught him that church ministry “should not be about giving from top to bottom, but about an encounter at eye level.”
May’s homily offers an insight into the dominant attitudes and restrictions on priestly blessings which harm the Church by harming its members. He points out his own desire to see LGBTQ people, among other marginalized groups, respected on every level in the church and fully welcomed, encouraged, and blessed.
As the rector of a seminary and therefore a leader and formator of priests, hopefully his reflections will enable other Catholics in church leadership to begin lifting these restrictions and develop more welcoming attitudes towards women and the LGBTQ community.
—Madeline Foley, New Ways Ministry, October 13, 2020